2019 Honda Civic First Drive: Midcycle Changes Make A More Civil Civic

In this crossover-crazed market, some manufacturers are dropping cars altogether in search of the perfect ute. But not every carmaker. Not Honda. While the industry as a whole has gone bonkers for SUVs and crossovers — 70/30 in favor of the light truck plague — Honda has remained almost even-keeled, with 53 percent light trucks and 47 percent passenger cars in its sales lineup. Cars still matter at Honda and, in its Kaizen continuous-improvement way, Honda is continuously improving its Civic.

It was all-new in 2016, with a new body that was 25 percent stiffer and 65 pounds lighter, plus two new engines, a 2.0 VTEC and a 1.5-liter turbo. Those are still in place, don’t worry. But as the tenth-gen Civic reaches the halfway point in its lifecycle, Honda has made a few changes based on owner (and press) preferences.

In dealerships since October of last year, the refreshed Civic lineup for 2019, features several little things people wanted fixed on it. Give the people what they want is what Honda has always said.

Thus, there are physical buttons and volume knobs on all Civic audio systems now, as well as Honda Sensing safety features standard on all trim levels of the sedans and coupes. And there’s a new “Sport” trim level for the sedan and coupe that comes with a more responsive suspension and steering as well as 18-inch wheels and tires.

There are still three body styles: sedan, coupe and hatchback, and you can still get the sedan and coupe in Si trim and the hatchback in Type R trim. All that is good. These midcycle enhancements should help Civic compete against the Toyota Corolla, Hyundai Elantra, Nissan Sentra, Mazda 3 and more. To really nit and pick which one has the most features for the buck and which trim level offers what standard you’d have to get a Cray supercomputer and enter all the variables for all the models. Let me know what you find out.

For now let’s just look at what’s different on the freshened 2019 Civics. The lower bumper is restyled, with a new blacked-out treatment. The top-of-the-line Touring trim gets a new design that actually gives the lights a wider and longer beam, Honda says. There’s more chrome on the front fascia. The rear bumper is lower.

In addition to those new audio buttons and the volume knob, the 2019 has better Bluetooth that pairs easier with your smart phone. Even the cupholders are bigger and better, Honda promises. More sound insulation lets you hear those Bluetooth tunes better. The Civic EX sedan gets an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat while the Touring sedan adds a four-way power passenger seat. The coupe and sedan Touring get new 18-inch wheels as well as paddle shifters for the CVT transmission.

Powertrains remain the same. The coupe and sedan LX and Sport trims get a 2.0-liter four making 158 horsepower and 138 lb-ft of torque with your choice of six-speed manual or CVT. The EX, EX-L and Touring trims get the more-powerful 1.5-liter turbo making 174 hp and 162 lb-ft with the CVT trans.

Prices range from $21,545 for a 2.0 LX Coupe to $28,195 for a Touring sedan with the 1.5-liter Turbo.

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